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The one thing you're guaranteed to find wherever your travels in Germany take you: sausages. Encased meats are a serious business here, and you could spend a lifetime working your way through 1,500 varieties of German sausages.
The tradition of making sausages goes back centuries. Not only was it a method to preserve food long before refrigeration, it was also the best way to use every last piece of precious meat. Sausage recipes go back for generations, and just like most German cooking, sausage types vary from region to region. There's also an abundance of ways to serve a sausage—grilled sausages are served up in a small roll, essentially just a sausage "holder," Weisswurst come to the table after a gentle bath in warm water, cured sausages are often served sliced, while other cooked sausages are dished up with sauerkraut. Germans don't mess around when it comes to their love for sausage, eating about 62 pounds of sausage per person each year.
Bavarians are sticklers when it comes to eating Weisswurst, a delicate white sausage made with veal, bacon, lemon, and parsley. The casing is never eaten; to nosh it like a native, you want to zuzeln (suck) out the meat. Make a slit at the top, dunk it in sweet mustard, and suck out the insides. It's all right to slit and peel it as well.
Once upon a time, the hotdog aspired to be a Frankfurter. In Germany this is no bland sausage to be doused in condiments like a ballpark frank—instead you'll immediately notice the snap of the Frankfurter's skin and a delicious smoky taste. Frankfurters are narrow by design, specifically to absorb as much flavor as possible during cold smoking. They're always served in a pair, and you should eat Frankfurters with your fingers, dipped in mustard.
This bratwurst dates back to 1613 and it's clear why it has stood the test of time: it's one of Germany's most delicious sausages. The Rostbratwurst is a mix of lean pork belly, veal, and beef, seasoned with herbs and spices. Most families closely guard their recipes, but they're known to add garlic, caraway, or nutmeg. You'll smell the scent of grilled Thüringer wafting through the streets because they're popular at street markets and festivals.
This small, narrow and dense sausage is also sold in pairs. It's cured by air-drying, so it resembles a dry salami in color and texture. Landjäger are made of beef, sometimes with pork, and red wine and spices. Historically, fieldworkers and wine grape harvesters liked to eat these salty sausages. Landjäger keep well, so they're a great snack to tuck in your backpack when you head out for a day of hiking in the mountains.
Sometimes called Rotwurst (red sausage), Blutwurst is a combination of ground pork, spices, and—the key ingredient—blood, fresh from the slaughter. After it's been cooked and smoked, the blood congeals, and the sausage takes on a dark hue and looks almost black. Depending on the region, it can be studded with bacon, pickled ox tongue, or potatoes. For most of its history Blutwurst has been considered a luxury item.
The sausage got its name when hungry students ordered it with a round of Bockbier, a style of beer, in Berlin in 1889. The sausage came from a nearby Jewish butcher, who made it with veal and beef. Bockwurst is a thick sausage seasoned with salt, white pepper, and paprika, in a natural casing. It's usually boiled and served hot, but it can also be grilled. It's one of Germany's most popular sausages, so you'll find it on menus all over the country.
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